We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with the chance to visit with both sides of the family. All were present at both dinners, 27 on each side. So much to be thankful for, time with family and friends, all the safe travels, and the continual blessing in our lives! As Thanksgiving falls into the past we start preparing for Christmas, the season of Advent is upon us. There is so much craziness in the preparations, Black Friday chaos, Christmas lists, decorations we can go on and on. Just as last year I am hoping to bring in a little more of what Advent is really about, balancing the excitement and the peace of the season in our house. We ended our weekend before traveling home with Sunday mass in my home town and the homily really got me thinking. This was part of the Gospel reading for Sunday.
Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had know the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Matthew 24: 42-44
The Priest began his homily speaking of how hard it is to make a long drive when tired. This caught my attention immediately as I have driven many late nights and early mornings. We just drove early morning 2 days earlier to get to my parents for Thanksgiving. He asked us to think of all the things we do to stay awake. I know just the things that work for me and I am prepared with them each time just in case. This morning I think of all the late night shoppers for Black Friday and the effort put forth to stay awake to save some money. For all of these worldly things we work so hard to be awake for we give ourselves the tools to make it happen; caffeine, sunflower seeds, cold air, music or just plain excitement of the event. As the priest continued he spoke of how Advent is the season of preparing. I prepared for the normal explanation of preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Instead though he gave me a new look at these preparations. Think of it as preparing for the next coming of Christ. Use the season to work on staying awake in our faith and living our life as Christ would want.
What tools do we have to help with this? Unfortunately it isn’t accomplished by a large cup of coffee. Of course we all think of the normal things, helping others by donating, working at food pantries, Christmas adoptions, the priest mentioned these but there was more than this in his challenge. He spoke of the small everyday things to keep us awake in Christ.
…But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Wow that is a big task. I often think of the love Jesus radiates. Can you imagine if each person in our world showed a fraction of his love what a beautiful place it would be? The priest spoke of three ideas for the season; spending time reading scripture, praying, and giving of yourself to others. As it is worth the effort to find ways to stay awake to make it to my desired destination when driving it is also worth the effort to stay awake spiritually to get to the most desired destination, Heaven. So for Advent I am going to work on finding more ways to put on Jesus as I start each day as Paul stated in Romans above and would encourage you to try to also.
Read Scripture: One suggestion was to read the daily readings. This is what I plan to do as a family this year for Advent, starting 4 days behind, not surprising for me. The daily readings can be found in most church bulletins or if you do not have that at your church you can find a list for this week below. I’ll try to remember to include them on my blog each week of advent. There are also many Advent Family Studies, which we used last year that give readings and discussion for each day or just open your bible and read.
Prayer: Praying for the people you know and people you don’t. Not only those in trouble but for all. If you participated in a Christmas adoption add them to your prayers. Maybe you see someone who looks to be having a pretty rough day. Say a quick prayer. Tiny prayers are important too. God wants to be in every aspect in our life, he has time to help us with even the smallest tasks. I recently started using a jar to put my prayer intentions in. As I think of a need however small I add it to the jar. Then once a day I light a candle next to it. Each time I walk by it is a visual reminder to say a prayer for all the intentions in the jar. Sometimes I say the Our Father and other times it is more specific. I have opened the opportunity to my family to add to the jar. The priest gave another suggestion for a prayer reminder. Carry something like a cross or prayer card in your pocket. Each time you felt it you would be reminded of God and say a little prayer of thanks or of need as it feels fit for the moment.
Give of yourself: Look past the obvious list from above. Think of ways to continuously give of your time throughout the day. Consider how we treat others in our life, close to us and those we may share just short moments with as we cross each other’s paths. Use kind words and a smile. Show your understanding to the Mom with the screaming baby at the grocery store; we have all been that Mom. Take time to truly listen to what someone has to say. Avoid the need to rush to the next destination so you have time for a 2 minute conversation. Maybe with someone who lives alone from church or another Mom to help each other breath in the business of life? Both are a good use of 2 minutes. Listen to the elderly women who starts a conversation with you in Wal-Mart. Listen when your daughter sings her Christmas song from music for the 100th time, and maybe sing along. Take time to hear your son’s aches and pains that appear only at bedtime each night and give him comfort. Be aware of those around you. Invite someone to church or to your house this season. Make a phone call to say hello. In our busy lives this is the hardest thing to give, our time.
Keep your eyes open for the opportunity to share Gods love. This opportunity presents itself more often than we think and many times just in our own home and in very simple ways. Add more scripture, prayer and giving this Advent and STAY AWAKE as you drive through life!
Scripture readings for Dec 1-7:
Sunday: Is 2:1-5, Rom13:11-14, Gospel Mt24:37-44
Monday: Is 4:2-6, Mt 8:5-11
Tuesday Is 11:1-10, Lk 10:21-24
Wednesday Is 25:6-10a/ Mt 15:29-37
Thursday Is 26:1-6/Mt 7:21, 24-27
Friday Is 29:17-24/Mt 9:27-31
Saturday Is 30:19-21, 23-26/Mt9:35, 10:1, 5a, 6-8